What does 20/20 vision mean?

The apple of our eye, the windows to our soul, a sight for the sore eyes, an eye for an eye…wait no, just forget about that one. Needless to say that the importance of the eyes for us humans has made its way into our very language, our day-to-day sayings. That goes to show that, yes, the sense of sight is extremely precious. But how precious really? 

Our brain receives up to 80% of its information through our precious eyes.1 That means that if other senses such as taste or smell become impaired, it is down to our eyes to protect us from danger.

We’ve all seen the ads, we’ve heard it over and over: our eye health and having clear vision are important. But have you ever actually stopped to think about the impact that poor vision can have on our daily life? What defines ‘good’ or ‘poor’ vision? Let’s take a look (pun intended).

Sight vs Vision

Sight and vision are different entities, but they are equally important in that they allow us to connect with our surroundings, keep us safe and help maintain the sharpness of our mind. Sight is purely physical, it is a sensory experience during which light reflects off shapes and objects, light which is then focused by the eyes. Signals are then sent to the brain to be converted into images.

Vision is how the brain interprets these images. Sight may allow a person to witness an event, but vision helps the person understand the significance of the event and draw interpretations. Both of these work in harmony and are absolutely key in our everyday lives. Hence the importance of their quality.

So, what is visual acuity?

Visual acuity, or “VA” for short, measures the clarity of vision, particularly the vision of shapes and images. The word ‘acuity’ comes from the Latin ‘acuitas’ which literally means sharpness.2 In its most basic terms, visual acuity refers to where one’s sight is situated on a scale with absolute blurriness at one end, and absolute sharpness on the other.

Visual acuity is the result of a complex, finely-tuned watchmaking collaboration between various parts of our wonderful bodies. It depends on the sharpness of the image received by our retina, which is situated at the back of the eyeball, on the sensitivity of the nervous response and on the interpretive capability of our brain.

VA is a quantitative measure of our ability to identify black symbols of varying sizes on a white background at a given distance. Clinical testing of visual acuity is most commonly based on letter recognition and it requires not only the optical ability to perceive the image, but also the cognitive ability to recognise it and the motor ability to respond.3

Why 20/20 or 6/6 vision?

20/20 vision is a term that simply determines ‘average’ eyesight. If you have 20/20 vision, you can see clearly at 20 feet what most people see at that distance.4 If you have 20/100 vision, it means that you must be as close as 20 feet to see what a person with normal vision can see at 100 feet.

Calling normal vision ‘20/20’ vision is true for eye care professionals in the U.S., but not everywhere else in the world. In Europe and elsewhere, opticians would say that normal vision is 6/6 simply because their unit of measurement is different: 6 meters is approximately 20 feet!

Of course, there are some (annoying) people who have a vision that’s better than 20/20 – let’s not try to be jealous – like 20/15 vision or 20/10 vision. This means that they can see something 20 feet away (like a line on an eye chart) that most people can see when they’re 15 feet away (20/15) or 10 feet away (20/10).

Why is sharp vision important?

As mentioned before (and as we all know): ‘the eyes are the windows to the soul.’ It’s an expression that is often used to describe the deep connection one feels when looking into someone else’s eyes. However, just like windows, our eyes work both ways. They are not only useful to see into another person’s soul, but are also vital in how we view the world around us.

Good vision goes hand in hand with good quality of life. In terms of safety, day-to-day activities such as driving, cycling or even walking can be dangerous for you and others if you can’t see properly. In terms of comfort, being able to see clearly gives you more freedom in your favourite activities. Having good vision means that you won’t have to squint, whether you’re at the back of the classroom or at the front of the movie theatre. Finally, in terms of reading, correct vision means that you can work, learn or unwind more comfortably.

Is an eye examination essential?

It’s very easy to forget or put off having your eyes checked by a certified eye care professional. Many people think that if they’re seeing clearly and don’t notice any symptoms that may indicate a visual defect, then there’s no need to schedule a regular eye exam. And yet it is essential for your overall health!

Having your vision corrected can massively improve the quality of your everyday life. A vision-related problem can be the cause behind one of the symptoms described below:

  • Headaches
  • Squinting, covering or rubbing your eyes
  • Tilting of the head or unusual posture which leads to sore muscles
  • Using a finger to help read properly line by line
  • Losing track while reading
  • Omitting or confusing words when reading
  • Underperformance at work or school

Through a comprehensive eye exam performed by an ophthalmologist or optometrist, possible issues with your eyes and vision will be identified, thus paving the way for effective treatment.

The Nikon Lenswear experience

Here is the carefully thought out routine that Nikon Lenswear partnered opticians are encouraged to follow so as to help determine the best options available to you to heighten your visual acuity:

The optician carefully places the order for your lenses, whose precision will be personalised according to your correction, the chosen frame and your physiology.

High precision vision solutions

At Nikon Lenswear, precision is in our DNA, from innovation to customisation. Yet we believe that precision is not an end, it is not the ultimate benefit that Nikon Lenswear products bring to consumers. We see precision as a means. It’s a means to reach a goal, a means to achievement, a means to change perception.

Only precision can give people the ability to perceive hundreds of elements that make a scene perfect, elements that are insignificant at first glance, elements that are…just details. For those under 40 years old, SeeMax Infinite lenses are uniquely designed to provide flawless vision through a customised lens design to deliver the sharpest, clearest vision possible. 

For presbyopes,  SeeMax Ultimate takes into account the wearer’s visual light sensitivity, by removing any lens aberrations (especially for peripheral vision) and by perfectly fitting the lens to the chosen frame shape for customised clear vision.

For all wearers looking for ultimate precision and customisation, our relentless pursuit of innovation has led to our latest cutting-edge product, EYECURASEETM. It harnesses the power of advanced lens technologies by Nikon Lenswear combined with the latest digital refraction technology, to offer an unparalleled vision experience. It delivers the finest precision lenses, measured to the nearest 0.01 dioptre, with a resolution 25 times higher, all packaged with a new customised lens series.

Visual accuracy and precision: Live bigger

Precision is something that drives our lives. Visual precision gives us the ability to see the details that make up our environment. And yes, our ability to capture every moment, every image, every action does reveal the beauty of the world around us. In other words, the beauty of the everyday, of the mundane lies in the details that only visual precision can catch. Our eye health is so precious, let’s take it as seriously as it deserves and prevent vision loss: speak to one of our Nikon Lenswear partnered opticians today.

Here’s to 20/20 – or 6/6 depending on where your eyes are reading this word from – vision!

1. Hutmacher F. Why Is There So Much More Research on Vision Than on Any Other Sensory Modality?. Front Psychol. 2019;10:2246. Published 2019 Oct 4. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02246.
2. American Optometric Association
3. Colenbrander: Measuring Vision and Loss (Chapter 51, Volume 5, Duane’s Clinical Ophthalmology, 2001 edition)